The Social Dimension of the Workplace

The past year has involuntarily opened us to new ways of managing companies, it has shown new perspectives for renting offices and organizing the work of employees. In many enterprises, working in a remote or hybrid system has become a permanent fixture, allowing for cost optimization. However, does it have the same non-economic effects?

Work as a space for social meetings

A person is a social being. This is evidenced by numerous research and scientific studies. And although they can cope with working on their own, and when working in the office, they feel the need for “peace of mind” and locking themselves with a laptop within their own four walls from time to time, the need to function in a group is definitely stronger. At the turn of the 1970s and 1980s, David McClelland, an American psychologist and expert in the field of motivation, showed that by working we fulfill three life needs: affiliation (belonging, perceiving ourselves as a member of a group), achievement and power. Interestingly, his research proved that the greatest motivation for as many as 80 percent of American employees was neither power nor achievement, but the need to be part of a team. In a word, work in its economic dimension was only an addition to their social life for them.

Efficiency through integration

Organizing team-building events, evening outings after work, movie Thursdays and similar events in the company is therefore not a corporate “invention”. It is a procedure that more or less consciously leads to building bonds between team members, and this, in turn, translates into effective work. It has been known for a long time that an employee who feels good in their workplace, and the greatest influence on it is the atmosphere in the team, works more creatively and more effectively, and their work brings added benefits to the company. Good relations in the company favor the formation of the professional identity of employees, improve communication in the team, and influence the creation of creative ideas, which, in turn, most often appear during informal conversations, e.g. during a lunch or coffee break. An employee who has an excellent social atmosphere at work is more likely to wake up in the morning happy that they are going to work. Very often it is also their colleagues who unconsciously stop them from making a decision to change it – this is a fear that it may not be as nice in a new company and sadness from parting with a good team. It has also been proven that the greater the informal support from colleagues, the lower the risk of burnout.

 Onboarding new employees

Another aspect influencing the advantage of working in the office over remote work is the process of introducing new employees. This is very difficult in the absence of their personal presence in the company. A newly hired person on site in a real office can count on ongoing support, always has the opportunity to ask a colleague from the desk next to them or their supervisor, it takes much longer to correct potential problems, it takes much longer to correct any errors. In the case of remote work, this process is much more complicated. It is also difficult to assess whether the employee has sufficiently implemented the scope of their new duties and work system, or whether they are simply unfit for work. It is also difficult to feel part of a company with which you only have contact online, at most from time to time through a webcam on your computer reporting progress in the performance of entrusted tasks. Without personal contacts that take place face to face, there is no possibility of establishing social relations and any emotional ties with colleagues, and the company as an organization, even more so.

Psychiatrists and doctors are sounding the alarm today that the so-called lockdown has had a very negative impact on society as a whole. In addition to the fear of losing their jobs, employees suffer from being without their colleagues for a long time. Even the most wonderful family will not compensate for the lack of several dozen or even several hours a week spent with a well-coordinated team at work, no talks over coffee or during an elevator ride, and even the lack of emotions accompanying a stormy exchange of views on the implementation of the project.